Impossible Instant Lab Review


For the past few years Impossible had been working on an all new device that would merge the easiness of modern smart phones with the epicness that is instant film. That product was crowd funded and was a total hit. The Instant Lab caught so many peoples attention and was talked about everywhere. We tested the beta version and were totally hooked! We recently got our hands on the official release and man are we still loving it. We are not blind to the criticism the instant lab receives, as many people think its cheating. We disagree.  It is not only a great device for our modern times, full of images created on our phones, but it also opens a whole new avenue of creativity.

For the people who say that the Instant Lab is somehow cheating the game, where are the rules? We only see fun and enjoyment and her is why.

Instant Lab Specifications

The Lab works with iPhones 4/4s 5/5s and iPod Touch 4 and 5. We also know that a version for Andriod will be soon available. The coolest thing is that we are finally able to use films without a battery pack which is great because it reduces cost.  Also having full control of your image is totally rad because you can insure a good image. The battery that is built in can hold a charge that can print 100 images no problem! The device is charged with the charging block of an iPhone and even a computer. There is a lens inside that is used to focus the on the iPhone screen. The lab will let you use any Impossible film or Expired Polaroid film you have. The Instant Lab has preset times for current films. The Impossible app also recently got a new feature. After you select your film type you can tap on the image to tell it to expose for a certain thing. Like someones face of the highlights in a scene. Really love that feature. That is basically it! Super simple clean design.

Getting the best results.

It will most definitely take one image or two to get  the best results. We have a few tips! First make sure your iPhone’s screen is clean! To get the best results you have to consider how the film reacts to color. The biggest thing to look out for is saturation and color temperature. Impossible film is a relatively warm film and can desaturate images just a bit and highlights are very sensitive. So to combat this and get an image that is not to warm I load the image into my favorite photo editing app,VSCOcam. The Impossible app has a few sliders of things you can do but don’t offer the control I would like. I tune the image a shade cooler -1, saturate the image by +5 and either reduce the overall exposure by -1 or the highlights +3 and bring the shadows up by +1. Of course, a few photo editing apps can do this, whatever you are most familiar  will work and you can customize the look. Below is a before and after edit, a walk through of the Impossible App and the final image!  The Instant Lab also has a built in extended frog tongue so your images will be free of light leaks!

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Instant Lab Uses

We all know how much fun Instant Cameras are at parties, regular life fun and any social gathering! We are all the hit at any party. The instant lab is always a hit when I go meet friends for coffee. Being able to make iPhone photos into tangible images still blows people away, just like our instant cameras do. I personally love the idea of editing my iPhone photos using type to show the location, making them look like postcards. Actually you can use them just like them. Sharpie the back with an address and you have the coolest postcard ever. Much cooler then those cheesy ones that you buy at tourist shops.

Artistic possibilities are just endless. Many who make transparencies and layer them to tell stories in images will tell you that the instant lab makes it so much easier. Making transparencies becomes more simple  the more controlled the environment is in which you make them. Some our favorite users make amazing collages (show below). Not to mention double exposures! Most 600 and SX70 cameras do not let you make double exposures but the instant lab most definitely does!

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Double Exposure by Celina Wyss

By Andrew Miller

The Beauty on the Rocks-PanoPortrait-FINAL

  By Patrick J Clark

Okay, So We Know You Like It But What About Other People?

“So, having not seen the beta version of the lab, my first thoughts out of the box were good. I thought the unit seemed well made and durable. I noticed the tripod socket and got excited, knowing that that could only be there because this is the foundation of a possible IP camera.
Having played with the app some, I was used to the controls and found it very easy to navigate. I will say, that my biggest complaint is the size of the box used to select the exposure.Speaking of exposure, my first shots were blown out. it took a few times to understand how it was exposing the scene, but after that, no issues.The instant lab was fun. I have asked people what it’s purpose is. Well, just when I received it, Charlotte had gotten some cold weather. IP film does not like the cold, but I wanted a print of my kid in the snow to remember the day. Fix, shoot the shot on my iPhone and come inside and print while having coffee.I have not tried double exposures yet, but I’m anxious to. I see the Instant lab as a tool. I think people that do transparencies and emulsion lifts will love the lab. I think it will allow them to plan their final piece of art in a way they could not before. Two thumbs up from this guy!” Chris Kale 
“I’ve been using the instant lab since it was released, and I have to admit when they did the Kickstarter I was skeptical. It just seemed like a weird idea. Why wouldn’t I want to use an SX-70 or my SLR680? Well I will be the first to admit I am an idiot. The Instant Lab is amazing. First, I do love photographing with my phone. I get to turn my techie brain off and enjoy photography for what it is. Second, honestly the images I’ve printed with the instant lab are better than any vscocam filter I could apply, and now I can hold them in my hand. More than a few people I know got Instant Lab pictures in frames this last Christmas, and all of them were impressed. Then, when I started playing around with multiple exposures the possibilities of the thing really opened up. You can take any kind of file, of anything, and overlay it on an image, or print it as a document, anything you can imagine in the two dimensional realm of those little square images can be printed in beautiful analog form. Plus there is remarkable consistency in the controlled setting. Very little temperature variation because you’re always inside, and the images are already shielded by the built in frog tongue. I used to get a guilty feeling when shooting with my phone on trips because I knew I should be using a real camera, but the instant lab saves me. I will say it’s too expensive. People who buy this are gonna be buying a lot of film, I wish IP would transfer some of the cost of the device to future purchases of film. But I don’t have access to IP’s books so I’m sure they have to do what they have to do. They seem like the opposite of a greed driven company (*cough* Fuji”film” *cough*).” Mark Sperry


“I will admit, I was totally turned off to the idea at first. The idea of creating polaroids from digital images was blasphemy, complete heresy. It completely sapped the magic from shooting polaroids themselves and it was something I would never ever want to use. Or at least this is what I thought at first. When I finally got my hands on one, it wasn’t before long I fell in love with it. It has a bit of a learning curve, especially with color film. Skin tones were very hard for me to get down; most of people’s faces were blown out. However once you get a bit of a system down, this thing works wonders. Now I love photography with my iPhone. As an avid film shooter, the iPhone is my digital camera of choice, heh heh. Taking some of my favorite iPhone shots and turning them into something tangible, something you can hold is pretty amazing. Where this thing really shines is being able to produce Polaroids to give to others. Taking a beloved digital photo of a couple or of a loved one and being able to print it and give it to their family and seeing their face light up is just beyond comparison; something that they can keep forever. I’ve been sending all kinds of photos to friends and family since I received the instant lab and they absolutely love them. Even if you dont use your iPhone camera much, you can send photos to your iPhone (I usually use dropbox) that you can then turn into Polaroids as well. Also, as mentioned before, it’s a good device to practice emulsion lifts, transparencies, and even double exposures.  I will agree that the price is steep, especially when including all the film you will be using for it, but I can assure you it will be worth the while. I love the instant lab and use it on a regular basis now. Highly recommended.” –  Justin Molina


  1. This review makes me wanting to have the Instant Lab. I’ll surely buy one when I’ll be able to 🙂
    Thanks for the article

  2. Danny Garretson says:

    Truly a thorough review. I guess I should get to saving….

  3. Please help me with everything being blown out.. I use the tapping on the screen of the exposure but it still blows out.. Any tips?

    • Hi Fred,
      Personally, I take and edit the image I want to use in my favorite photo editor and turn down the highlights as much as possible. Also, I brighten up the shadows a bit, reduce the contrast, then add more color saturation. I also change the temperature settings to be more on the cool side since the film (especially color) warms up a bit. Hopefully these tips help! Good luck!

  4. Whitney Clark says:

    My review: (Hope this company can step up and not mislead anymore)

    Purchased this product to do a photo project at home. I intended to buy 30 packs of film for my project from the IMPOSSIBLE company to use with this device. I bought this from a third party seller brand new. I opened it up and read the instructions on how to use and also went to youtube for extra information. On the product page itself [product page picture in gallery] you will notice it says it will work with android devices 4.0.3 and up. *** This is not true***. I have a BLU life one phone with 4.4.4 android system and high resolution screen and it says the device is not compatible. However, according to their own product page, it says it is supposed to be compatible.
    I ended up writing to the company requesting help with my device.
    Their first response said this:

    Hey Whitney,

    Any device above 4.0.3 with a high resolution screen should be compatible with the Instant Lab. Have you tried downloading the app? If you’re able to download the app and run it your device will work with the Instant Lab.



    I then wrote back:

    I have an acceptable device that runs 4.4.4. It is a BLU life one phone. As stated, I have downloaded your app onto my phone successfully. However, when I open the app it says it will “not” run on my device. It says to send you information to let you guys know to add my device, in the meantime find a device that is close to my own to run it. I selected one randomly because I have no clue which of those devices my phone is closet to. I get all the way up to selecting the film type then I check the “check mark”. The tutorial guide says to place camera on the printer, and it just sits there and does nothing.

    Please let me know if there is something I am missing. I have only 14 days to return this item. I would very much like to get it to work if I can before returning it.
    **phone specs in gallery ***

    They then proceeded to ask if I had a carrying case, which I did not.

    They then told me after looking at the specs of my phone that this was not compatible. Even though it was 4.4.4 android running system, this was not accepted and they sent me a link of accepted products: [Only device working page picture in gallery]
    The list of accepted products was not linked to the main product page. This was VERY misleading on their part. You literally would have to do a egg hunt to find the acceptable products page, which I find to be dishonest. I ended up wasting my money on a product I can no longer use.

    I wrote them back letting them know they should be upfront with their customers, because their product page is very misleading and at most, dishonest. If it says it will work with android 4.0.3, then it should be expected to work with my phone.
    They need to change their product page and let people know that not all devices with android above 4.0.3 and up will work and provide an easy to find link on that same product page.

    I also had problem with it printing. I used my husband’s phone which is a Samsung galaxy, and when I hit the eject button, it shot out two pictures at once! Both pictures never did develop, so I wasted $29 for film just doing that.

    Bottom line:
    I would not recommend this to anyone until the company fixes this issue and is more upfront with it’s customers. If I see any changes with this company in a more positive direction, I will update my review. Until then, I guess I am just out my money unless I can get the seller to accept a refund.

    • I really hate to hear that Whitney. I have never tried to Instant lab with anything other than the iPhone, which I have always had good results. But you are correct, if purchasing a product based on information provided, that information should be reliable. I hope they can get it sorted out to work with your phone, and I hope the third party seller will work with you on a return. Impossible really is a company that listens to the feedback of customers, so please don’t write them off just yet.


  1. […] for the rest of the article) I received the SP-1 a few weeks ago and jokingly asked, could be an Instant Lab killer? I will say up front, NO! Although there are some very cool features I will discuss with the […]

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